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I've noticed the latest trend among commentators (and others) on the right, is to dismiss ahead of time any of the forthcoming indictments that involve perjury or obstruction of justice.  I'd just like to point out a few things for the potential indictees and the folx trying to use these "talking points."  

Let's examine this situation as if these potential indictees were facing the equivalent process on active duty in the military...

In the military system, our equivalent of a grand jury indictment process is the Article 32 hearing.  Such hearings are necessary for our most serious offenses.  Lesser offenses are disposed of through nonjudicial punishment or lesser forms of court-martial.  In our system, a case that goes to an Article 32 hearing usually results in a conviction and some jail time.  Maybe you can look at that fact and try to condemn the military justice system, but let's leave that discussion for another time.  For the purpose of this post, what this says is that these indictees, if on active duty, would probably be looking at a federal conviction and some jail time.

And this would be the case, even if they were eventually only convicted of perjury and/or obstruction of justice.  Let's say that these military members were first charged with, oh say, wrongful disclosure of classified information.  And then let's also say that during the Article 32 investigation, additional information came to light so that additional charges of perjury and obstruction of justice could be brought against them.  Under our system, the original charge in this case would probably be a violation of a regulation under Article 92, punishable by 2 years confinement and a dishonorable discharge (DD).  But the perjury charge, under Article 131 UCMJ, carries a maximum punishment of 5 years confinement and a DD and the obstruction of justice charge, under Article 134, UCMJ, carries a maximum punishment of 5 years confinement and a DD.

So even if the original charge were lost or could not be pursued for some reason at trial, these indictees, in our system, would be facing up to 10 years in confinement for single instances of perjury and obstruction of justice.

I'll leave to y'all to argue how close an actual correlation you can make between the military justice system and the federal system the indictees are currently in.  All I'm saying is if those folx were on active duty in the military, I think their lawyers and friends wouldn't be saying that either perjury or obstruction are not real crimes.

Originally posted to A Liberal JAG on Mon Oct 24, 2005 at 09:15 AM PDT.

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